Final journey: Thousands of Acehnese join the funeral procession of the founder of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), Hasan di Tiro, in Meure, Aceh Besar, Aceh, on Thursday. Hasan, who died on Thursday, was buried at the Tengku Cik Di Tiro National Heroes Cemetry in Meure village. JP/Hotli Simanjuntak
Former leader of the now-dissolved Free Aceh Movement (GAM) Hasan di Tiro died in Banda Aceh Thursday, just one day after the Indonesian government officially recognized his citizenship.
Hasan, officially dubbed the Wali Nanggroe or leader of Aceh, had been in intensive care for more than a week. He died at 84, at the Zainoel Abidin Hospital, of kidney failure and an infection of the respiratory system.
Crowds thronged streets in Banda Aceh and near his place of burial in Aceh Besar, after prayers were held for him at the Baiturrahman Mosque. Hasan had last visited the province’s landmark during his first visit in October 2008, when he briefly addressed the masses who came from all over Aceh.
A physician who had treated Hasan said his heart had stopped beating several times, once reaching “15 minutes.”
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed his condolence, saying the government had fulfilled the request of Tiro’s family and friends by finally granting the latter Indonesian citizenship Wednesday.
“He will be buried in Indonesia as an Indonesian citizen. This marks the peaceful and dignified end of conflict in Aceh,” Yudhoyono told a press conference shortly after a plenary Cabinet meeting at his office in Jakarta.
A businessman descended from an Acehnese royal family, Hasan lost his Indonesian citizenship after declaring the establishment of the GAM, which sought independence from Indonesia, on Dec. 4, 1976.
He fled to the US before finally residing in Sweden after being granted Swedish citizenship.
Almost three decades of conflict ensued in Aceh, killing some 15,000 people. It took the 2004 massive earthquake and tsunami, which devastated Aceh and killed thousands of people, to resolve the conflict.
The Helsinki agreement signed in August 2005 by the central government and the GAM made way for Tiro’s homecoming in 2008.
After the peace deal, GAM members formed political parties, including the leading Aceh Party, and a former rebel, Irwandi Yusuf, was elected as Aceh governor.
Irwandi led Thursday’s memorial service in Meure village in Aceh Besar regency, some 30 kilometers outside Banda Aceh.
Hasan, a writer of several books, mainly on Aceh, was buried next to his grandfather, the country’s national hero, Tengku Cik Di Tiro.
Some 1,000 residents and former rebels prayed over his body, with many breaking into tears.
“He was a great fighter ... We are very proud of him,” former rebel Khairuddin told the Associated Press.
Irwandi, GAM’s former spokesman and military strategist, declared a week of mourning in Aceh.
He said Hasan was proud of the peace Aceh now enjoys. “He once told me that such peaceful conditions was the ultimate goal of his struggle,” he said.
Erwida Maulia contributed to the story from Jakarta.
Name: Tengku Hasan Muhammad di Tiro
Place/date of birth: Pidie, Aceh, Sept. 25, 1925
Father: Tengku Muhammad Hasan
Mother: Pocut Fatimah
Wife: Dora, of American-Jewish descent (divorced)
Children: Karim di Tiro, associate professor at department of history, Xavier University, Ohio, the United States.
• Law School, UII Yogyakarta (1945)
• International Law, University of Columbia, US
• Pemuda Republik Indonesia (PRI), 1945
• Staff member of late deputy prime minister Syafruddin Prawiranegara
• Staff member of Indonesian information delegation to the UN, 1950-1954
• President of the National Liberation Front of Aceh/Sumatra.
• Appointed by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia as supreme advisory member at the World Muslim Conference, 1973
• Established the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) on Dec. 4, 1976
Books (in Indonesian/Malay/English/Acehnese)
• Achieving Independence (1946)
• The Principles of an Islamic Nation (1947)
• The Dutch-Aceh War (1948).
• Democracy for Indonesia (1958)
• The Political Future of the Malay World (1965)
• Aceh in The Eyes of The World (1968)
• The Drama of Acehnese History, 1873-1978
• The Price of Freedom: The Unfinished Diary (1981)